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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Journey on the floor

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For some it may be daily occurrence but for readers of this blog, it isn’t likely to be so. For me, I’ve travelled on the floor of bus or train only two times so far.

When I see people on the floors of train or bus, I usually think that these people either couldn’t afford reservation or didn’t plan in advance. They also appear mostly poor people. There is something humiliating (also unhygienic) about having to sit on floor while other passengers sit or stand. Even if I am not travelling and am tired of standing, I find it insulting to sit on footpath or corridor or platform. It’s natural reaction and not a big issue. Point I am trying to get into is that I found this more in India than in United States. It wasn’t uncommon to see students at MIT sprawling on the corridor of campus and doing their homework or chatting. It wasn’t frequent but it stood out more simply because that did never happen in India. Of course, there is no doubt where corridors were cleaner.

First time I travelled unreserved journey on floor of train was when my Grandmother died and we had to make an emergency journey to deposit her ashes to river Ganga. We didn’t try unreserved compartments because they were so cramped that even floor space was not available. I was young and with my uncle who tried to get us seat by bribing the ticket conductor. Perhaps there were more bribers than number of seats, or perhaps bribe was insufficient, I don’t remember, we didn’t get any. Tired of standing over hours and sleepy to core, I just collapsed on the floor and slept without effort. It was strange experience, being woken up when people walk by and feeling embarrassing at heart. We managed somehow and I don’t remember making much fuss, perhaps because I was younger and hadn’t developed ‘tastes’, but it was journey to be remembered over time.

Second journey was for short duration of two hours in the middle of night when only bus we could find back was a private overnight coach which had all seats occupied. Probably driver made few bucks underhanded without knowledge of his owner.

Have you ever travelled on the floor? Would that be experience you remember or want to try?

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